Image May Solve Amelia Earhart Mystery

In 1937 Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first woman to pilot a plane around the world. Unfortunately, Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean about 1,650 miles (2,650 km) southwest of Hawaii. What happened to Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and the Lockheed 10-E Electra airplane is a mystery.  An ocean researcher, however, believes he might have found Earhart’s plane lying on the ocean floor.   

Amelia Earhart’s Pursuit of Flight 

Amelia Earhart sitting in an airplane cockpit.
Amelia Earhart sitting in an airplane cockpit.

Amelia Earhart grew up in aviation’s infancy. She was fascinated by flight as a young girl. She bought her first plane on her twenty-fifth birthday. She set several aviation records, which made her a celebrity in the late 1920s and 1930s. In 1928 she became the first female passenger to fly over the Atlantic Ocean in a plane piloted by two others. In 1932 she flew a plane on her own across the Atlantic Ocean, another first for a woman.  

In 1936 Earhart planned to become the first woman to fly around the world. Purdue University even purchased her a plane for the trip. On March 17, 1937, Earhart took off from Oakland, California, and flew west, planning to follow the path of the Equator. Unfortunately, a minor wreck in Hawaii ended her trip.  

Earhart’s Final Flight 

On May 21, 1937, Earhart and her navigator Noonan attempted to fly around the world for the second time. This time, Earhart and Noonan would leave Oakland, and fly east. By July, their journey was almost complete. On July 2, 1937, they took off from Papua New Guinea heading towards Howland Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean. While flying over the Pacific Ocean, she radioed to a U.S. Coast Guard ship near Howland Island that her plane was low on fuel. An hour later, Earhart announced they were “running north and south.” That was the last message received from Earhart. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized a search for the missing plane, but by mid-July the search was called off. The pair was declared lost at sea. 

What Happened? 

Many theories have been suggested to explain what happened to Earhart’s plane. Some people suggest that instead of landing on Howland Island, Earhart landed on Gardner Island but died waiting to be rescued. Others believe that Japan’s military, a growing empire in the years before World War II, shot down her plane and took Earhart and Noonan as prisoners.  

Possible New Evidence Found 

The answer to this mystery may be closer to being solved. In September 2023, Tony Romeo, the founder of a deep-sea exploration company, began a 100-day search using sonar to scan the ocean floor near Howland Island.  Sonar is a technology that is used for finding underwater objects using sound. In December, as Romeo’s team reviewed their data, they saw a fuzzy yellow outline of what resembles a plane. Romeo believes that this wreckage may be Earhart’s plane on the bottom of the ocean floor, about 100 miles (160 km) from Howard Island.    

The next step will be to send underwater cameras to the site to see if it is a plane, and if it matches the one flown by Earhart. If it is Earhart’s plane, it will likely start a debate as to what to do next. Romeo would like to raise it and display it in museum. Other researchers suggest that it may be better to examine the wreckage but leave it where it is.   

Dig Deeper Locate Howland Island on a map. It is very small and located between Australia and Hawaii. Map out a path from New Guinea to Howland Island, from Howland Island to Hawaii, and from Hawaii to California.